Southern-fried soul heats up Summit
BRECKENRIDGE – The wetlands of Louisiana seeped into Malcolm Welbourne’s soul as a young man, ripening it with a swampy soul and funky juke-joint sound.Welbourne played in the five-piece New Orleans-flavored band Papa Mali for four years before settling into his groove in trio form.When the original players of Papa Mali disbanded to pursue other projects, Welbourne emerged with two new players, drummer Robbie Kidd and bass player Chris Grady, forming the Papa Mali Trio. Since then, Aaron Wilkinson slid into the slot Aaron Grady filled.
“It became obvious when we got together the first time that this is something special,” Welbourne said. “It was more than the sum of the parts. It inspired me to write a lot of new songs for the trio. It’s taking (the music) to the next level.” While the original Papa Mali focuses more on covers by New Orleans players and jams, the trio has created its own sound based in slide guitar, funky beats and soulful rhythms. “There’s more of an emphasis on the song – lyrics, arrangements, dynamics, melodies,” Welbourne said. “Then we get super-charged funky and improv and tie it all together. There seems to be more substance.”
Kidd brings a funky sense to the sound, bringing in that heavy, gritty, bayou funk.Welbourne grew up in a lower- to middle-class neighborhood in northern Louisiana, where he hung out in cotton fields and the bayou. Although rockabilly and country sounds of northern Louisiana influenced him, the funk, soul, rhythm-and-blues and jazz rampant in southern Louisiana wrapped around his soul and didn’t let go. He spent summers with his grandparents in New Orleans and began playing guitar when he was 4. By the time he was 8, he was singing the blues.
“If you want to get symbolic about it, growing up (in Louisiana) shaped my view by giving me an appreciation of nature,” Welbourne said. “I’m able to handle myself in slightly dangerous situations. I had to wade through poisonous snakes to get to my playground. And the world’s not that much different. There are all kinds of snakes in the grass.” Welbourne’s poetic symbolism emerges through his music tonight at the Goat in Keystone and Tuesday at Sherpa & Yeti’s in Breckenridge.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at email@example.com.
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